Following the planned cessation of Mini Countryman production at contract assembler VDL in the Netherlands, BMW has announced that the successor model will be made at the BMW Leipzig plant from 2023.
BMW said last month it would bring manufacturing of the Countryman successor model in-house in the wake of the pandemic crisis and re-evaluated group production needs. BMW’s Leipzig plant specialises in electrification making it a particularly good production base for electric powered versions of the new Mini crossover. Leipzig will produce both the combustion and electric powered versions of the crossover.
The Countryman successor will come with a choice of front or all-wheel drive, petrol or diesel engines, or an all-electric drive. Production is scheduled to start in 2023.
“Over the last few years, we have worked continuously to lead our plant into a successful future. This contract to produce the successor to the Mini Countryman gives us another major milestone to work towards,” says Hans-Peter Kemser, Director of BMW Group Plant Leipzig. “It is clear evidence of the company’s faith in our expertise and our site, and fantastic news for the future of our plant.”
BMW says that since opening in 2005, the Leipzig plant has constantly increased its production capacity. The latest investment programme to reach completion comprised extensions and upgrades to the body and paint shops, assembly and logistics, and totalled around EUR300m.
Leipzig production capacity is now put at more than 350,000 units per year, suggesting plenty of available capacity for Mini’s niche crossover variant.
BMW maintains that flexible production processes already in place make the plant particularly suitable for multiple powertrain and drive configurations. Since launching production of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer in 2014, Leipzig has become the pilot plant for BMW’s front-wheel drive architecture. It currently manufactures the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and both the front- and all-wheel drive variants of the BMW 1 Series.
The site in Saxony is also described by BMW as the birthplace of BMW Group electromobility. Since 2013, it has manufactured over 200,000 BMW i3s.
Leipzig is to receive investment of more than EUR100m to add an assembly facility for e-drive components. Due to go on stream as early as 2021, the new facility will make Plant Leipzig a member of the BMW Group’s international production network for high-voltage batteries. It will cover an area of some 10,000 square metres and run a highly automated process to assemble lithium-ion cells brought in from suppliers into standardised battery modules. These will then be combined to create model-specific battery packs for BMW and Mini cars. The electrified variants of the successor to the current Mini Countryman made at Leipzig will therefore be fitted with locally assembled battery modules.